Palestinians Accuse Arsonists of Declaring War

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An arson attack against a mosque in Samaria is a declaration of war, Palestinian Authority spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeineh said, according to the Palestinian news agency WAFA.

The mosque in the village of Burqa, was set alight early Thursday. Chairs and carpets were burned and Hebrew graffiti saying "War" and "Mitzpe Yitzhar" was painted on the structure.

Palestinians attacked Israeli security forces who came to investigate the incident, reports said.

Several hours earlier the army dismantled two buildings in Mitzpe Yitzhar, a nearby illegal outpost. Many assume the attack was part of what is becoming known as "price tag" attacks carried out by Jewish extremists in retaliation for the any moves against Israelis who live in communities in Judea and Samaria.

Earlier this week, dozens of such extremists infiltrated and attacked an Israeli army base, shocking the nation and prompting calls for harsh action.

Some said media reports of that attack on the army base were exaggerated in order to give the 300,000 or so Israelis who live in the territories a black eye.

Nevertheless, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu approved measures to help police deal with the phenomenon.

Israeli President Shimon Peres met on Thursday with local leaders regarding the torching of the mosque.

"What these guys are doing is very serious," he said. "Israel has always been proud of protecting all of the holy sites."

"Today, when the Muslim world is where it is, to give them justification to attack Israel is a disaster, it's crazy and it must stopped," he said.

Chairman of the Yesha Council of communities in Judea and Samaria, Danny Dayan said most residents "are opposed to violence."

"There is no justification for actions, no matter what the religion of the victims is," Dayan said.

But he said that recently there was a trend of inciting against Jewish settlements in Judea and Samaria.

On Wednesday, Rabbi Shlomo Amar, from the Israeli city of Rishon LeZion, met with rabbis from the territories and officers from the military base that had been attacked.

Amar said such Israel's "greatest enemy" is a civil war and that matter was serious.

"We must not remain silent. Silence can constitute danger. I call on everyone to see, with their eyes wide open, the current danger of such actions," Amar said.

Chief Rabbi of Samaria Rabbi Elyakim Levanon said they had some to express their support and shock over the attack that reflected "a small, insignificant and extremist minority."

Sources: Jerusalem Post, Ha'Aretz, YNet, Israel National News, WAFA

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